The last two days or so of my trip to Panama in March of 2017 have been sitting on my laptop languishing, never processed… perhaps just waiting for the depths of a testy winter to remind me of warmer climes. I can’t think of a better time to revisit the tropics, at least vicariously. And I am looking forward to visiting western Panama next February.
So here are some pictures from the last day at the Canopy Lodge and then from the hotel grounds in Panama City where I had several hours before my flight home. For the most part the tanagers and the Wood Rail above were at the lodge and all the rest of the pictures were my last day in Panama City.
It’s been an exhausting two weeks, but things are getting back to normal, except perhaps for the weather. Getting used to the new car, busy with work and choir rehearsals… thinking a lot about my book but not getting much writing done. Watching the days getting ever-so-slightly longer!
I’m finally back with pictures from my last day in Ecuador taken in November of 2017. I had an extra day to roam the Garden Hotel grounds in Quito because my flight was leaving in the afternoon instead of the middle of the night. It’s a different birding experience without a guide and a group. I had to find all the birds myself, but then sometimes it was easier to approach them.
Although the Sparkling Violet-ear above was too far away for a clean shot, at least I captured its iridescence.
And this was a little better look at the Rusty Flowerpiercer than the group had the day before.
Most impressive, the Black-Tailed Trainbearers seemed to be everywhere. And not terribly shy. I particularly like the picture below of the bird trying to blend in with the tree trunk. The trunk itself suggests giant asparagus to me. I think it was some type of palm tree.
The habitat surrounding the Garden Hotel in Quito looked promising for a few grassland species and I got lucky with the four below. At the top is a Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, and below it, left to right, an Ash-Breasted Sierra-Finch, Grassland Yellow-Finch and a Yellow-Bellied Seedeater.
Southern Beardless Tyrannulet
Great Thrushes were everywhere on the trip but not always easy to capture, or maybe because they were so ubiquitous I wasn’t trying hard enough.
The one tanager I saw a lot of that day was incredibly hard to get a decent picture of. It is a Blue-and-Yellow Tanager. Depending on the light, it’s blue and yellow hues intensified or dulled.
Another common species of grassland areas is the Saffron Finch. I was intrigued by the fact that this one had nesting material. Flying directly overhead was the Broad-winged Hawk below.I think we saw this raptor practically every day, but this was a particularly nice view.
And my last day in Quito would be incomplete without a picture of the ubiquitous Eared Dove.
One more of the Golden Grosbeak, who seems to be asking me why he is getting so much attention.
Spring is just around the corner, and breeding birds are already starting to come back to our area. I will be back soon to report.
It used to be I’d run into a box of old photographs and be whisked away to the memories contained therein. Now, over the weekend while I was looking for whatever media device on which I managed to save last year’s tax return, after exhausting every flash drive I’ve been able to find to no avail, I found an unlabeled CD with…pictures from February of 2009, a trip to Belize and more specifically, a visit to found Tikal in Guatemala! In particular, Tikal was a magical place. So here’s what I found on the CD.
Collared Aracaris (Tikal)
I am having a hard time identifying this turtle but it’s lovely.
Black-collared Hawk (Lamanai)
Snail Kite (I just lightened this up a bit from the original)
Keel-billed Toucan (Tikal)
Black-headed Trogon (Tikal)
Bare-throated Tiger Heron
Red-Lored Parrot (Tikal)
Oscellated Turkey (Tikal) – my favorite
Aztec Parakeet (Tikal)
I’ll be back as soon as life slows down a bit. More to come. In the meantime, I hope you find as peaceful, brief, and colorful a diversion in these pictures as I did.
Here’s the other half of my previous post. Maybe it doesn’t hurt to remember there is still a lot of beauty left in the world. Hummingbirds are a good place to start. A Golden-Tailed Sapphire above and a Many-Spotted Hummingbird below.
Another beauty is the White-Tailed Hillstar.
In my next life, if I return quickly, maybe I can study butterflies.
Perhaps less spectacular but still interesting, a Western Wood-Pewee, Barred Antshrike and Deep Blue Flowerpiercer.
Another unique species below: the Thrush-Like Wren.
I have seen Cliff Flycatchers before but do not remember seeing the gray on the face like I did on this bird.
We were lucky to see a Chestnut-Eared Aracari which was not on our list.
Reality check. Tomorrow I am going to what promises to be a colder-than-last-year Gull Frolic, as we have chilled down again after two rather balmy days. With any luck I will get some fun photos to share with you. Fun as in Frantic Gulls. Until then, I wish you peace, safety and beauty wherever you are.
P.S. A Blackburnian Warbler on the left (“distracters” on this trip!) and a Social Flycatcher on the fly.
After shoveling snow all weekend, I don’t know how I’m going to get through the rest of the winter if I run out of pictures from Ecuador…
Since my head is still full of snow, I won’t try to remember exactly where these pictures were taken, so my comments will be few. Don’t you love my disclaimers?
It was a good day for tanagers. Below is a distant Blue-Browed Tanager which was a new one for me.
The Blue-Winged Mountain-Tanager below refused to reveal much of itself. I love how these birds with such bright plumage manage to blend in with their surroundings: “maybe I look like another yellow leaf.”
It was nice to get good looks at a Blue-Necked Tanager, below.
And then we found a Speckled Tanager, which I have seen elsewhere, but I can’t remember. Maybe Costa Rica or Colombia…? One of these days I’ll get my list together.
I’m sure I was always trying to get a halfway decent photograph of a Paradise Tanager. Any part of the bird you might see is spectacular but it often proved difficult to capture the entire bird at any one time. These two were far away but otherwise not camera-shy.
Not a lot of parrots sitting still, most of the time they were flying over in pairs, their calls to be identified by our guide often before we could see them. This Blue-headed Parrot was the exception.
I remember we went up a trail in search of the Powerful Woodpecker. It was thrilling to find a pair noisily knocking about the trees.
I have too many pictures from this one day! I will be back with the rest soon. I think I’m still mentally tired from shoveling, so “less is more” right now. I’ll close where I started, with a couple more shots of a Fork-Tailed Woodnymph.
How I wish I could be in Ecuador today! We are in the single digits which presents a challenge even for hardy Midwesterners. Revisiting the trip through these photographs is only a little bit more frustrating than trying to take the pictures themselves, but I am grateful for the escape on a day like today.
The two pix immediately below represent two frequent quandaries: one, a lot of vegetation, but where was the bird, and two, we can see the birds but they are far away and have their backs to us. The Crested Quetzal at the head of this post was the only one that ventured to turn around.
Above, three views of a Black-Crested Warbler. Below, a Scarlet-Rumped Cacique.
I think the best looks I got at the Mountain Wren below were outside my back porch.
Also in the “yard”, an Azara’s Spinetail. And a Cinnamon Flycatcher.
The Green Jays are…also yellow and blue and black.
Sometimes I got a good picture in a less-than-attractive setting, like the Chestnut-Bellied Seedeater below.
A Strong-Billed Woodcreeper…
While we were grateful for sunshine, sometimes its intensity interfered with images. Below, a Streaked Xenops, Squirrel Cuckoo and Red-headed Barbet.
Anytime we encountered rushing water we were looking for Torrent Ducks. We did finally find this male.
A Tropical Kingbird on the left, a Short-crested Flycatcher on the right.
Woodpeckers were seen infrequently. Below, the best I could manage of a Yellow-Vented Woodpecker.
I am grateful for any Mountain-Tanagers I managed to capture. Below is the Blue-Winged.
Also directly around the room, a beautiful butterfly and a hairy but flashy-looking fly.
Of course the ubiquitous Chestnut-Breasted Coronets insisted I pay attention to them…
And this Green Jay was reminding me he too can be camouflaged. Somewhat.
As hard as it is to sit inside with the sun shining brightly today, I know that clarity comes at a price… We are due for a slight warm-up tomorrow, just enough to turn cloudy and start snowing. Hey. The days are getting longer. Spring is coming. Keep thinking Spring. It will happen. Have faith. And I have yet more tropical diversions in store for this page.
The days are getting ever-so-slightly longer and the angle of the sunlight is inspiring spring longings (my Black-Capped Chickadee burst into song a couple frozen mornings ago as I was filling the bird bath with clean water). But green is still a couple months away. And I still have many more memories of Ecuador to share.
After traveling over the continental divide we finally arrived at Cabanas San Isidro and spent the rest of our time there. Surrounded by birds on the grounds, we had several trails to explore on the property and beyond, as San Isidro is situated between two national parks.
Green Jays were predictably around the dining hall making raucous comments.
The Black-eared Hemispingus above was seen only once. Just barely.
We likely would never have seen the White-bellied Antbird above if we had not visited a location where insects have been collected for its consumption. This is becoming a more common practice as more people travel to see these birds. Every bird loves a free meal.
Frequently seen birds above: Montane Woodcreeper, Russet-backed Oropendola and Mountain Wren, were still challenging to capture.
Identifying flycatchers is always challenging, but I love the variety and the personalities of each individual. On the left is a Pale-edged Flycatcher, and the bird on the right is a Marble-faced Bristle-tyrant, which is a lot of name for a small bird.
Invariably there were Rufous-Collared Sparrows everywhere, which made them nearly ignorable, except for the fact that their marvelous Towhee-like song which I have recorded and inserted right under the pictures made me think that if House Sparrows had an equally beautiful vocalization maybe we would tolerate their numbers better. Rufous-Collared Sparrows are not an invasive species in Ecuador but their numbers are reminiscent of House Sparrows in my neighborhood. Come to think of it, even when we were in the cities, I don’t think we had one House Sparrow the entire trip.
It was wonderful to see this Masked Trogon well, although I did not want to startle him by trying to move to a better angle so his image wouldn’t be bisected by the wire he was sitting on.
Crested Quetzal female
It was even harder to get a Crested Quetzal, let alone one that would turn around all the way and face me. Still, she sat there long enough, I really can’t complain.
Not a lot of tanagers from this day, but I was able to capture this Blue-Gray.
The Bluish Flowerpiercer above was another species we added to this group. I’m sure there are times it looks bluer in better light.
The Cinnamon Flycatcher above was looking for insects outside my back porch. My cabin was amazing. A few photos below.
There were plenty of hummers around the dining hall where several feeders hung from the veranda. I will likely have more feeder pictures to post but for the time being I cannot resist sharing this Sparkling Violetear in a moment of repose.
I will be back again with more from Ecuador. It’s hard to go back to my normal life even after sitting here composing a blog post about this place.
I suppose it’s only fitting I started writing this post today while the outside temperature in Chicago (55 deg. F.) was just two degrees cooler than Quito. We won’t stay here long, though. By tomorrow morning we will have dropped back into the 20’s F.
We weren’t all that warm up in the higher elevations as the above picture indicates. In any event there was a lot to look at and these pictures are from our first day trek through the mountains from Quito to Guango Lodge.
Tanagers proved to be challenging subjects, often too far away to even try for. I think I’ve been spoiled by other trips where invariably some species came to feeders. But I am happy for the pictures I did get, which were without human enticement of any kind.
Summer Tanager, a species that migrates to North America
There will be more tanager species to come in future posts. Below, flowers and a fungus that appeared to branch out with its own petals.
We were fortunate to find these Rufous-Bellied Seedsnipe not far from the guard station. A somewhat elusive species, they blend in perfectly with the ground.
Below on the left is a Pale-naped Brushfinch, a bird we saw only in this habitat. The Orange-bellied Euphonia on the right was at various other elevations but I continually struggled to get a halfway decent photo of the male.
The Giant Conebill below seems like it’s worthy of a better name, it’s really quite striking.
Below are two species of Flowerpiercers. We did eventually see all six species on the list. The one on the left, the Masked Flowerpiercer, was common and quite a willing subject at Guango Lodge. The Black Flowerpiercer on the right was a little harder to capture.
Whenever we found a river we were looking for the White-capped Dipper below and we got lucky the first day.
Also hanging out by the river was the Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant below.
Eared Doves were most common but they rarely posed in good light. This one struck a fortunate pose.
A sign and a vista that caught my eye…
When we got down to Guango, we went for a little walk around the property and found one of the Mountain Tapirs that have been seen lately. Our guide Mitch declared her a youngster. We found her adorable.
Happy New Year. Here we are, 2018, we made it out of 2017. I made bread last night and I’m making quinoa pumpkin soup today. Some things never change. Beyond that, almost all my resolutions are on ice until I feel like I’ve thawed out enough. I’ve had my long underwear on all day to deal with the sub-zero wind chills every time I visit the backyard. Perhaps due to the severe cold, it’s been a fairly relaxing weekend, mostly indoors, with time to revisit the pictures from Ecuador, and when reflection or identification becomes too cumbersome, I happily doze off under the comforter.
I’ve decided to devote this post to some hummingbirds seen on the trip. The Chestnut-breasted Coronets were everywhere and often bullies at the feeders, which made it easy to try to ignore them, but on the other hand they made themselves available for a lot of pictures, so I obliged.
The Fawn-Breasted Brilliants were not so easy to intimidate, like the one in the top left picture of the mosaic above.
I had almost forgotten the Buff-tailed Coronets but was happy to find pictures of them from the beginning of the trip, several of which are below.
Collared Incas were common and holding up their own at the feeders too.
The White-Bellied Woodstar is just plain cute, and I think he knows it.
The female of the species is charming as well.
Female White-Bellied Woodstar
Not all the hummers were at feeders, like the next three below.
Shining Sunbeam, not so shining in the rain
I love the Speckled Hummingbird too. Its facial markings make it easy to recognize.
I can’t figure this guy out unless it’s a Long-tailed Sylph without the long tail.
Two Buff-tailed Coronets getting feisty
Two more feeder shots with a nice flower that was also hard to ignore.
More colorful photographs from Ecuador to come. This is turning into the perfect antidote to a harsh winter.
I hope you are safe and warm wherever you are and may your year be off to a good start.
I’ve been home in body for almost three weeks, but my soul remains in Ecuador.
Coming back to a busy work schedule, holiday pressures, choir commitments has made it challenging to get through the photographs. I still have to ferret out most of the bird pictures, although I have been reviewing them every chance I get to put up on Field Guides’ webpage, since I feel an obligation to the group as I was the primary picture-taker. On top of that pressure is the reality that it takes twice as long to process the pictures on my newer MacBook Pro, designated the “travel laptop,” which is where the bulk of the pictures reside. We’ll be visiting those pictures soon, I hope. In the meantime, here is a sampling of what I downloaded to my older laptop after I got home.
The irresistible landscape is part of Cayambe-Coca National Park, which we visited on our way from Quito to our first night’s stay at Guango Lodge in Papallacta. Guango was the magical place I stayed at for one night last year on the way down to the Amazon.
I could easily return to this part of the world just to explore the plant life.
In this quick post I am adding a few bird photos of species we saw practically every day. Below on the left is a Speckled Hummingbird.
Not a hummingbird, but an irresistible flycatcher, the Cinnamon Flycatcher was also on the list almost every day.
Below is a tiny leaf-colored insect on a large leaf to give you an idea of scale, and a closer crop of the creature itself.
More amazing plant life from the paramo and montane cloud forest. According to Wikipedia there are over 100 species of endemic plants here.
A couple more hummer photos…
Below, a Chestnut-Breasted Coronet emerging from the flowers.And a Fawn-Breasted Brilliant, Chestnut-Breasted Coronet and a mystery bird with its back to us at the feeder.